Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets of Howard Jay Smith



Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony - "The Best Small City Symphony in America" -  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

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About the Book:

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his
past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past. 
As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

Purchase Information:

Amazon


Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Howard Jay:  As a working professional writer, screenwriter, teacher and TV executive for almost four decades, I am always on the lookout for great stories of historical figures where my potential protagonist wrestles with the same types of profound emotional or psychological issues that each and every one of us can relate to in our own lives. I have also been a life-long lover of classical music and in fact sit on the Board of the Santa Barbara Symphony – the best small city orchestra in America.

My very first short story about piloting a Cessna – about half a page long – was written when I was in elementary school.  And I got my first rave reviews!
I wrote all though High School and college, everything from the school paper to newspapers.  My Master’s thesis was a draft of a novel about the social upheavals of the late 60’s and an accompanying teaching guide.

In my mid 20’s I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a Scholar into Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Conference where I met the late novelist, John Gardner.  John became my mentor and over the next few years I returned to Bread Loaf as a scholar a total of three times. There I worked with other greats of that era, John Irving, Toni Morrison and Tim O’Brien. I also studied with John back in DC and Virginia. Gardner was hands down the best teacher I have ever had for any subject ever.  It was through my work with him that I found my essential voice and truly began my career as a writer.  I soon published a dozen or so short stories in literary magazines before heading to what I imagined were the greener pastures of Hollywood and screenplay writing.

Seven years ago, when I first came across the story of Beethoven’s death -- how at his last moment a bolt of lightning strikes the side of his building, rousing him from a coma; his eyes open, he sits up right, he shakes his fist at the heavens and then collapses back to the bed and is abruptly gone -- I found the contrast to my own near death experience stunning. 

When I was not yet twenty-one and going to school overseas in Singapore, I had
a severe motorcycle accident. As my body somersaulted through the intersection, time stopped and a great and profound sense of peace and tranquility suffused my consciousness.  Fear, especially that fear of death we all share, disappeared.  My biggest surprise was landing very much alive – and in pain – on the other side of the crossroads and not the “other side” of life.

Beethoven’s death throes were so different from my calm transition.  That led me to wonder what it would have taken for this great man to come to peace with all the turmoil and failings of his life – and there were many.  In that nugget of a thought, Beethoven in Love; Opus 139, was born. Although those injuries still ache decades later – especially when it rains – researching and then writing this novel was an absolute joy. 

Is this your first book?
Howard Jay:  No, it is my third. I have also published or written for hire innumerable business articles, short stories, radio pieces, commercials and screenplays.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Howard Jay:  My friend and fellow writer, Russell Martin, author of the non-fiction bestseller, Beethoven’s Hair, also runs a small independent press, SYQ.  I ultimately decided to go with SYQ and found the process much more to my liking.  I was involved and had control over every aspect of the process, including the layout, design and cover.  I should add that the cover art was done by my son, Zak Smith, a well-known artist in his own right with five published books and paintings hanging in eight museums around the world.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Howard Jay:  My first book John Gardner: An Interview was published way back in 1979 by the now defunct New London Press. The best surprise was walking into a bookstore in Middlebury, Vermont, that summer and seeing it on the shelves and for sale.  Wow!

The publisher of my second, Opening the Doors to Hollywood, was Random House. It was a non-fiction work based on film and writing classes I taught at UCLA.  We had great distribution through bookstores nationally and it was again, a great kick to walk into a bookstore and to not only find it on the shelves but to also be asked for autographs.  That book sold in excess of fifteen-thousand copies but the profits were all gobbled up by Random House in shipping and distribution costs.  We pocketed almost nothing directly.

Opening the Doors to Hollywood was also in terms of the history of the publishing world, ancient history and of little use in obtaining a new publisher for my Beethoven novel.

After I had a finished draft of Beethoven In Love; Opus 139, I made a number of attempts to reach out to literary agents and other publishers using my old networks of contacts and business connections.  Soon, I realized that the publishing world had vastly changed since Opening the Doors to Hollywood was released.  Every agent I spoke with – and there were many of high caliber - wanted either a celebrity driven piece or an easily commoditized book of 250 pages.  Beethoven in Love; Opus 139 is neither. That’s when I turned to SYQ and struck a deal.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Howard Jay: Great question. Much of my career work has been related to not only writing, but business and finance. I have always been described as one of those “Left Brain – Right Brain,” kind of guys who goes back and forth between these two worlds.  The first five years I spent researching and writing “Beethoven In Love; Opus 139,” were clearly the creative side.  Once done though I switched gears and treated the printing, marketing and sales of the book as a business proposition.  What good is it if you write a great novel but no one reads it?  I focused on marketing and treated the costs and time spent as one would a business start-up, imagining that it would take a while to recoup those expenses. 
Clearly publishing and bookselling are industries that has been radically transformed by the web. Once I committed to a small press, I knew we had to maximize the use of electronic mediums to generate real business.  The old models didn’t work and I don’t think anyone has figured out the very best methods to deal with the new reality just yet.  Understanding that world remains a work in progress.
Recalling my experience with Random House where the profits were gobbled up by shipping, SYQ and I decided to limit sales to online outlets such as Amazon.  We created a large web and Facebook presence and then hired a publicist to promote the book to national newspapers and radio stations.  In the first few months following the release I did a lot of public readings and interviews on radio, in print, on podcasts and through the web. 
One of the beauties of a book about Beethoven is that I was able to target diverse markets through Facebook. We focused not only the world of book readers and clubs but also to the music world and have had a fair amount of success in both those realms. 
I have also performed in numbers of classical music venues in conjunction with soloists, small ensembles and even a full orchestra and choir.  The musicians would perform Beethoven’s compositions and I would read related selections from the book. In fact my first public reading was for a gathering of Beethoven scholars at the American Beethoven Society’s Thirtieth Anniversary Conference.  There I was, reading a work of fiction to the very people who knew more about Beethoven than anyone, and, thankfully, they loved it.
Now I not only have a following of devoted fans all over the world, I have also made a number of connections with the descendants of some of the true-life characters in the novel, such as the great grandson five generations removed of the woman, Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom Beethoven dedicated the Moonlight Sonata and is one of the women consider as a candidate to be his mysterious Immortal Beloved.
All of these activities feed into daily Facebook posts and Tweets and those in turn have driven sales.
Not everything however has gone as smoothly as desired. There are no road maps yet in what is still uncharted territory. For the better part of the past year, I have often felt like I am being forced to re-invent the wheel. My first publicist was a very traditional book publicist from Hollywood who has a client list of many famous writers – but in this new reality she was of limited actual help and very expensive.  I have since moved on to a publicist from the 21st century who understands the web and the results have been vastly superior.
In the end, though I have sold fewer copies than when I was with Random House, my personal return on investment has been much greater.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Howard Jay: Yes, but only, and I truly stress this point, but only if one is willing to make significant additional investments in the time and money to do the marketing.  This has not been easy. Finding the right small press, and hoping they have the key people one needs to do the proofing, the type font design, the layout, the cover is all essential.  And once the book is actually printed or put out electronically, one must be committed to spending both the time and dollars necessary on marketing. You can’t do it half way and expect good results.  It takes total commitment and effort.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Howard Jay:  And what tips would I pass on to other writers?  Researching and then writing this novel was a long journey, every moment of which was an absolute pleasure.  I learned ages ago that if you want someone to take the time and effort to read your book and find your work compelling and engaging, you must also be equally passionate about what you create. I absolutely love the entire process of crafting a story, from jotting down ideas and doing research when necessary, to shaping each line, each paragraph, each character, each scene. I want to transport the reader into a vivid and continuous dream that is so powerful, so all-encompassing that the next thing they know is that someone is calling them to dinner. So my first advice to any other would be writer is this: love what you are doing and let that passion be your motor or you will most-likely fail.

That journey however does not end when you type, “The End.”  It is just the beginning of the next phase.  You still must be the driving force behind the actually publication and marketing of your fabulous book that everyone will want to read.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets of Steve Dunn Hanson



I've lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I've lived. I have a hopper full of "reality" including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

Website & Social Links

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Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Steve: I decided to be an author some decades ago. I just haven’t had time to really get into it until the last few years when I haven’t been so swamped by things that keep me from doing it. As far as my book, Sealed Up, is concerned, I’ve had a compulsion to write about this for the last six or seven years. It’s literally unlike any other book out there both in its subject matter and its conclusion. It just may be that I was prescient in writing it. We’ll see.
Is this your first book?
Steve: It’s my first book for the general market and my first “full length” novel. I have three previously published books for a sectarian market.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Steve: I went Indie. I tried the agent route at first and may have gone that way if an “acceptable” agent took it. Ultimately, I decided to go the Indie route because of the control I would have. I’m glad I did. It has been a learning process which I have thoroughly enjoyed, and the results so far are very satisfying.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Steve: Journey is the right word! There are so many nuances with self-publishing that unless you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the game, and willing to spend some money, don’t do it. You are the writer, the publisher, the promoter, the marketer, the advertiser, the reviewer recruiter, etc., etc. For me, this all has been very interesting, even fascinating at times. The downside is that it takes me away from writing and adds months to my schedule for getting my next book in the series out.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Steve: The market is hugely competitive. Agents, by their own admission, are highly subjective in what they choose to represent. If you don’t have a track record, you’d better have an “in” or no matter how good your book, you are not likely to get the kind of agent representing you that you want. On the other hand, Indie publishing is extraordinarily competitive too. For example, there are some 4 million eBooks on Kindle. That’s what you are in competition with. The upside is if you do your homework and—VERY IMPORTANT—you have a really good book, you are going to be okay. It’s lots of work, but it can be done. Many thousands of Indie writer-publishers have proven that.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Steve: If you can find the kind of really good agent that will work their tail off for you, I’d go that route. On the other hand, if you are willing to learn and work hard, and you have a Cracker-Jack of a book, the Indie route works!
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Steve: If you know you have talent, just keep plugging along. You will need to learn how to write for your market just like you learned to walk. It’s not an overnight process and most of the really good (and successful) authors would consider their first offerings trash. And it probably was. Be patient with yourself and try to be objective about your writing. Seek out and listen to folks you respect who are willing to be candid about what you are putting out. And read, read, read! That will help you more than just about anything.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets with Tom Carter


Name: Tom Carter

Book Title: Nashville: Music and Murder

Genre: Fiction (Suspense, Thriller, Crime)



Is this your first book?

Tom: No, I've written eighteen, half of which were New York Times or USA Today best-sellers.

With this particular book, how did you publish - traditional, small press, Indie, etc. - and why did you choose this method?

Tom: This is my first self-published book.  I did so because conventional publishers no longer pay the lofty advances-against-royalties that I derived from my previous books.  Also, my self-publisher (Ingram) pays much higher profits than royalties issued by conventional publishers.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

Tom: I was a 17-year newspaper reporter who also wrote for Time and People magazines.  I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1988 to collaborate with singer/pianist Ronnie Milsap to co-write his
autobiography.  I eased from that book to an autobiographical collaboration with another celebrity.  My momentum gathered, and I eventually co-wrote twelve celebrity autobiographies.  I also 
wrote six unrelated books in various genres.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

Tom: My two books for 2017 were my first dance with self-publishing.  I learned about self-publishing mostly through time consuming trial and error.  My previous books were published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, HarperCollins, Random House, McGraw-Hill and Putnam.  Once a deal was signed, the publishers handled all of the production and distribution.  Not so with self-publishing, where a writer must learn the ins-and outs of the day-to-day rigors inherent to publishing, select a publicist, fulfill the publicist’s recurring demands, writing blogs, taking PR meetings, etc.  I may return to conventional publishing just to avoid self-publishing’s busy work. 

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

Tom: Yes.

What's the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Tom: Love to write for writing's sake.  The odds of being commercially successful are stacked against you.

                             //////



                         About the Book:


     As a teenager, Maci Willis fled the poverty and sexual abuse of her Louisiana childhood in hopes of finding a new life as a Nashville recording star or greasy spoon waitress.  Despite the odds, the former fate unfolded, and Maci recorded hit songs for two decades while indulging a pampered lifestyle void of risks and regrets.
     But all of that changed during one fateful performance.
     While Maci sang a fourth encore to a crowd of 18,000, the music was shattered by a gunshot fired by an obsessed fan.  She emerged triumphant from the attempt on her life — only to face another attempt shortly afterwards.  Was it a coincidence?  Or was something more sinister at work?
            Nashville: Music and Murder follows Maci's frantic flight from danger — and toward redemption.  Along the way, it exposes glamour of stardom, the loneliness of fame, and the seedier side of the Nashville music scene.
            Antagonized by the mass media, victimized by her record label executives, stalked by deranged fans, and hunted by local and federal authorities, Maci leads readers through a fast-paced descent into hysteria, chaos and murder. 

            In an attempt to escape it all, Maci finds herself returning to the childhood she once fled.  The woman who faced life on her own terms soon discovers that loneliness is a walking prison from which she’ll never walk away. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets of D.A. Hewitt



D.A. Hewitt is an award-winning author of four novels and over a hundred short stories. One novel was awarded a gold medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards for best regional fiction. He attributes his success to hard work, honing a skill and providing an outlet for his passion for writing.

Born in Michigan, he lived for 25 years in North Carolina before returning to live in his home state. In addition to enjoying sky diving and mountain climbing, he is a proud veteran of the US Marine Corps and has earned a degree in mathematics.

Mr. Hewitt admits to a fascination with the work of Carl Jung and of the Gnostic religion. He’d always thought intertwining these topics in a science fiction novel was a stretch, but one day the storyline of Dominion came to him. He wrote the novel in a stream of consciousness. “It makes sense, tapping into the collective unconscious,” Mr. Hewitt says, “very much like Carl Jung might have predicted.”

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About the Book:

It’s the year 2075. Lunar mining and processing facilities have prospered near the lunar south pole, where the Moon’s largest city, Valhalla, rests on the rim of the Shackleton Crater.

Dominion Off-Earth Resources has beaten the competition into space and is ready to establish its monopoly with the opening of the orbiting space resort Dominion. But Pettit Space Industries has a secret plan to emerge as a major contender in the commercialization of space. The upstart company is training the first space rescue squad at a secluded off-grid site in Barrow, Alaska.

The rescue squad gets nearly more than it can handle when its first mission involves the Pope, who’s traveling to the Moon to establish the Lunar See. During the rescue attempt, they discover Earth is imperiled by an asteroid large enough to cause mass extinction. Using the unique skills taught during their training, skills emphasized by the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, these Jungi Knights must elevate their game if they are to save both the Earth and the Pope—while not getting killed in the process.
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Doug: Oh, I’ve been published before. I just had something happen that made me want to write another novel. I mean, you have to have something to say if you want to write a novel. Dominion is a novel with a message, and I hope it connects with an audience, because the audience will benefit. You can find out more at my website, www.StinkyUniverse.com or my blog, www.StinkyUniverse29.com.
Is this your first book?
Doug: No, my third. I’ve also had five nonfiction books published.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Doug: I wanted to go big time, but I think my message was too controversial. So I went with small press. Who knows? Maybe if the story is good enough, it’ll catch on. I’ve made it available, that’s all I can do. Well, that, and a bit of promotional effort.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Doug: One of my first writing teachers told me that if it’s possible for me not to pursue the life of an author, then I shouldn’t do it, because that path leads to many, many disappointments and hardships. The writing life is not an easy life, but it is rewarding. I started with short stories. I had written 12 before I sold my first one. I didn’t sell a novel till I’d written my fourth. And so you can see it takes time to develop into a top-notch writer. But it’s worth it.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Doug: It’s incredible how much luck is involved with hitting a home run in the publishing industry. To some extent, sure, the quality of the manuscript matters. But it’s all about getting that manuscript in the right hands at the right time. And that’s a crapshoot.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Sure. Small press publishers are great. I’d advise against self-publishing unless you’re writing a family history or something that you know only family members are going to be interested in. If that’s your goal, fine. Self-publish. Otherwise, if you can’t sell your manuscript, go and write a better manuscript.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Doug: Don’t give up. Like life, writing is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the ride while you can.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Author Jane Jordan

Title:  The Beekeeper’s Daughter
Genre: Thriller
Author: Jane Jordan
PublisherBlack Opal Books
Find out more on Amazon and B&N
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Jane: I started wring seriously in 2004 after I rented on old house on a remote part of Exmoor, in England, for a week. That old house changed my life, giving me a story idea that just had to be written.
Perhaps, it was the atmosphere, the ancient history or the beautiful scenery of Exmoor that enchanted me, or just maybe, I was inspired by the ghost that shared the house with me.
The house was haunted.  I felt that element even before I listened to the caretaker’s stories. My first book turned into a trilogy and combined vampire superstition with a complex and modern love story.
Exmoor was hugely inspiring. A historical dark romance felt like the next logical step. At that time, I had worked in a 1000-year-old castle on Exmoor, and learned about the history of the surrounding estate lands going back several hundred years.
On Exmoor there are many old houses and ancient villages, and many more legends and mythical tales associated with them.  The Beekeeper’s Daughter is primarily set in Victorian times, it is a darkly romantic thriller combining a strong element of witchcraft and the supernatural. 
Is this your first book?
Jane: No.  This is my fourth book.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Jane: Black Opal Books is a boutique publisher—a smaller traditional publisher that does not release as many books as a big named publishing house.
I chose this method as I wanted to be taken seriously as an author, having previously self-published.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Jane: That’s a very long story! 
My first novel was called Ravens Deep, and it was a dark romance story combining vampire superstition and a modern love story.  I wrote it in 2004, before anyone had heard of ‘Twilight’ or ‘True Blood’.  I spent the next two years polishing and editing the manuscript, and sending query letters to countless literary agents, in America and in England. 
In the spring of 2007, I received a letter from a top London agent asking me to go up to her London office to discuss my book with her. 
I thought that I was on my way to being a successful author, why else would I get the invite? 
The meeting started off well.  The agent told me she liked my story.  She thought it was creative and had great potential.  She told me there were a few grammar mistakes, but nothing a good editor could not fix.
But…. and this is where my dream fell apart.  The agent declared that ‘vampires are not in right now, and she couldn’t sell this to a publisher’.
I was a little taken back, and reasoned that was why Ravens Deep could be successful.  The marketplace was ready for this kind of story, it was unique, creative and the last successful vampire book had been Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’, ten or so years prior.  The agent was not convinced.  She said that was part of the problem, there was not anything to compare it to.
Had I known the outcome of this meeting, I would have pushed harder. But I figured she was the big agent, and I was an unknown author, so she must know what she was talking about.  She sent me away after asking me to do a few edits on the first chapter, then, a few days later she turned my book down.
So imagine my frustration when only a few months later ‘Twilight’ hit the headlines followed by ‘True Blood’.  Suddenly, vampire romance was everywhere.  I knew submitting to any more agents would be pointless, I would be just another one out of hundreds of authors now writing vampire romance novels.
I had already received a couple of contract offers from vanity publishers, and I did not want to go that route.  Self-publishing seemed my only option if I were ever going to see my book in print. Ravens Deep was first published in 2008, when I was living back in England for a few years.  Ravens Deep became the first book in a trilogy. 
I sent my book everywhere and to lots of libraries up and down the county. I had a call back from the Richard and Judy show, an English television book club.  They had a copy of my book Ravens Deep and was considering using it on their TV show, but their representative warned me that they were in ongoing talks about the future of the show.  Consequently, that show got moved to a different station, the format changed, and Ravens Deep did not feature.
Having some small success with marketing Ravens Deep myself, and knowing no agent or publisher would pick up book two and three in a trilogy, I went on to self-publish the next two books. (Blood & Ashes and A Memoir of Carl).
I befriended the owners of many local independent book stores and even a gothic type shop around Exmoor.  They all kept my book in stock and I sold many books that way.  I did a couple of book signings and was asked to be a guest speaker alongside well known authors, at the Porlock literary festival on Exmoor.  This went well for me. 
Then, recession hit England.  Nearly all the independent book stores closed, and I moved back to America and Florida in 2013.
In 2014 I finished writing The Beekeeper’s Daughter, and began to contact both literary agents and publishers in earnest.
I quickly received a publishing contract from a small press.  Although, my elation rapidly turned into regret, as this episode was a complete disaster.  The owner/editor, gave me dates and then nothing happened, when queried she gave me a myriad of excuses, everything from her computer breaking down, illness, even death in the family, and this went on for months. She also became abusive and aggressive.  At that point, my patience was gone, and I requested that all my rights be re-assigned to me, as I did not want them to publish my book.  This publisher refused to co-operate, until I got a publishing attorney involved.
I got my rights reassigned to me and learned a valuable lesson – do your research properly on any publisher. Had I done this, I would have read other author’s horror stories of dealing with this particular publisher.
In 2015, I started to query publishers again, and Black Opal Books gave me a publishing contract.  Unlike the previous publisher, Black Opal Books have been a great publisher to work with.   
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Jane: I came so close to having my first book published and taken seriously only to be let down.  When it was published, the TV show could have propelled my book into the mainstream, but that wasn’t to be either.  It has been a very long journey to get to this point and so I suppose the real moral of my story is don’t ever give up.  If you believe in your work sooner or later, someone out there will love it too.
I would say don’t bother to query agents unless you are published.  Agents tell author’s they want something new, something creative, but what they really want is to pigeonhole your work, and compare you to someone else.
I saw something that a top London Agent couldn’t.  I saw the gap in the market, and she was too afraid to take a chance on me, because she could not compare me to anything on the market at that time.  
I like to believe that she regretted her decision, seeing how vampire romance stories became so marketable and lucrative.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Jane: Yes, a good boutique publisher is a sound option.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Jane:  Write what interests you and not what is the current trend.
If you truly believe in your work, someone out there will too.  Keep writing, hone your craft, and don’t give up.

Most authors, even famous ones say they have received enough rejection letters to make a book, so don’t take rejection to heart, it’s just part of the journey.